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Pre-degree: Online: Ms Sarah Kai




​Level:

Pre-degree

College:

University of the Arts London

​Course:

Pre-degree: Online

Course Period:

November 2022 -

都内のインターナショナルスクールを卒業した後、日本の大学を休学されて、UALの「Pre-degree: Online」というオンラインコースに通われたSarah Kaiさんに学生生活について伺いました。UAL日本出願事務局では、Sarahさんのようにインターナショナルスクールに通われている方も数多くサポートしています。Sarahさんは日本語と英語のバイリンガルですが、今回の体験談は英語でお送りいただきました!



Preparation for Study Abroad



Q. What made you decide to study and why?

I am currently studying Economics at a Japanese University but I was tired of pursuing something I had no interest in. I decided to apply for UAL and was prepared to drop out of my current university. I’ve always been passionate about the field of the arts, and I wanted to study in depth while being immersed in a creative environment with passionate artists like me. From friends and family, I’ve heard that the UK is one of the top countries known for art, and I thought studying at a school in the UK would be a great opportunity to explore the arts and culture.

Q. Why did you choose University of the Arts London (UAL)?

To be truthful, I initially chose UAL because of its global branding as a top art school. But after doing extensive research on the school, I’ve noticed that compared to other schools I’ve seen, UAL offers a range of disciplines in different fields of the arts. In other words, there are majors such as “Graphic Branding and Identity” that are unique and rare to find in other schools aside from UAL.

Moreover, what pushed me to choose UAL was its “Pre-degree Online”. This course is designed for international students to take foundation degrees online while staying in their home country. I wasn’t too prepared to leave Japan mentally, so I wanted to prepare myself and interact with tutors in the UK and people across the globe while being in Japan.

​​Life in London

Q. What is it like to study an online course? How did you make friends?

I was mainly online, so I only chatted with my friends through social media. However, whenever I converse with them, it’s always very funny to see how they’re either shy or active during class, but everyone is chaotic in their own way when I talk to them outside of the class. I’ve also become friends with a girl that I met in group discussions, and unexpectedly, our interests and hobbies matched a lot. We spent lots of time talking both inside and outside of class. In general, it is fun to stress and talk about our creative processes, which shows how we’re all very passionate about what we’re doing. Lastly, because I’m friends with people from across the globe, it’s always cool to see them posting pictures of places and food in their countries!

About your course at UAL



Q. What do you learn on Pre-degree: Online?

The UAL tutors want to know what pathway students want to explore: such as art, design, and communication. Initially, it was confusing what exactly these areas are like, so we’ve taken 3 weeks (one week per field) to observe and experiment with each discipline while learning methodologies and techniques from different professional tutors. After that, we chose an area we were most interested in out of the three, and throughout the rest of the course, we explored the field we chose in depth with various projects the tutors assigned us. Especially because we are studying online, most of us don’t have specialist facilities or tools, so the projects gave us initiatives and techniques, for creating with limited resources.

But aside from that, Pre-Degree Online course supported and pushed our creative process in multiple ways, such as getting us to go both outside of our homes and comfort zones to explore various techniques or offering various articles and books to support our project.


Q. Pre-degree: Online is fully conducted online. What is it like to participate in an online course and make works?

The experience with the online course and creating work depends on the person. Although the course was completely online, the course load and intensity were rigorous to me. The classes were a guide to help us move forward with our creative practises, but also a platform where we can exchange ideas with peers and tutors.

On the other hand, the Pre-degree encourages us to use our time outside of classes to expand on our creative practises, so there is a great balance between exploring independently and with class.

As mentioned though, one of the challenges when exploring materials and creating pieces would be using materials around you, or going to buy some as we students do not have facilities like on campus students do. However, this is one of the most unique experiences you’ll have as an online student, as you’ll gain the skillset of thinking and getting around issues with limited tools.

Q. Could you tell us about any advantages you have found with online classes?

There are many advantages of taking online classes. One, Pre-degree Online is quite new course, so the class size is small. This gave me more opportunities to interact with tutors and communicate with other students. It was also quite easy to remember people’s names too, which deepened my bond with others . Second, if you are a non-native English speaker, you’re not alone as there are many in similar situations too. Both the tutors and students are quite understanding, and they’re also very eager to learn about you.

Q. On the other hand, were there any difficulties or disappointments with online classes?

There weren’t too many difficulties or disappointments, but one of the most challenging things would be internet trouble. I had issues with my mic and internet, which made me miss some important class content and sometimes hindered my interaction with my peers too.

This statement really varies, but if you have a strong preference for what pathways you want to pursue and/or great likes or dislikes, then the first 3 weeks of exploring the pathways may be challenging. It is fine if you get over the 3 weeks, as you get to explore the field you want to later on, but I’ve personally found some of the pathways not appealing, which made it slightly challenging, but this was a great experience for me to recognise what I am and am not well suited for.

Q. Can you tell us your weekly schedule?

I was attending another university in Japan while attending UAL, so depending on the days, my typical week can be both relaxed and hectic. On the days I have university, I go to university in the morning, and I rush back to my home after I finish my classes to go to UAL. On the other hand, I have days when I don’t need to go to my other universities, so I take my day off to either do my remote part-time job, finish my university homework, or work on my UAL projects. But regardless of the day, after my class at UAL, I take several hours until 10-11 pm to work on my UAL projects.

Q. What are the tutors like?

Pre-degree Online assigns you your own personal tutor, and all students have tutorials once a week. One to one discussion with a tutor, is mostly taken after the class (but the time is negotiable as long as you communicate with the tutors properly). My course was divided into 2 semesters, so most students got to talk with 2 different tutors. I had a Japanese artist who studied and teaches fine arts, and a designer who teaches in the field of Graphic Design. I had more opportunities to talk with the Graphic Designer tutor, and I’ve heard that she has taught famous Graphic practitioners, which was very cool!

The way tutorials go depends not only on what you want to discuss, but also on the projects you’re working on. However, it was a very meaningful time for me to not only talk about the ideas I have, but also have a company that can help organise and connect my ideas together. Moreover, the tutors were also with me to also offer insights by giving us references and suggestions. Tutors’ feedback varies, as the Japanese tutor encouraged me more to explore to find the best methods for me, while the Graphic Designer pushed not only to explore, but pointing out weaknesses and pushed me to do extensive research. There’s no right or wrong in creative practices, of course, nor correct methods of creating. But I found my tutor’s advice to contribute a lot to my process!

Aside from tutorials, I’ve got a lot of opportunities to talk with others outside of my assigned tutors. During online class, the tutors are also eager to talk to you to see how you’re going with the project, so you can also gain more insights on how to do your project.

One thing I want to highlight would be “don’t be shy or be scared”, because all the tutors are very patient and willing to hear you out!

Q. What are your classmates like?

I heard that the number of students really varies depending on the year, but I had approx. 30 students in my class. I expected most students to be freshly graduated from high school, but I encountered students who were around same age as me, as they’ve gone through gap years, or dropped out of a prior university.

Education-wise, there were students from diverse educational backgrounds: some were non-native English speakers and mainly raised in one country, fluent English speakers who went study abroad to learn English or even people who graduated high school but travelled around and studied short-term at different institutions.

There was a large diversity of nationalities in Pre-degree Online. It’s difficult to list all the countries, but I have made friends from Japan, Spain, Germany, Turkey, Hong Kong, and many more.

Having studied at the University of the Arts London



Q. What were the positive things you gained from your study at UAL?

Unfortunately, I’ve decided to finish my degree at my other university and pursue UAL after I graduate. However, there are too many positive things I’ve gained there.

One of my main positive points would be how I’ve gained the motivation to be able to work with limited materials and independence. In the past, my artistic practise has been driven by my high school facilities, but it has been greatly restricted as I’ve entered a Japanese University. My artistic ability was slowly diminishing, but UAL taught me the methods of using things around me. This not only pushed me to become more motivated and recover my artistic ability, but also expanded my practises and methodology too.

The second main positive point would be the exposure to different fields and thoughts. The main reason why I decided not to go for a bachelor's was because there are too many majors to choose from. Being able to interact with people on Pre-Degree Online also means you get to know what bachelor’s they’re going for, and the portfolio they’ve prepared for.

I originally wanted to pursue Graphic Design, but looking at other people’s pieces made me question and reflect on my interests again. Although it did make me hesitant on applying for Bachelor’s, simultaneously, the exposure to these majors stimulated my curiosity about exploring, and going outside my comfort zone, and exploring interests within me that I haven’t thought of.

Q. Could you tell us if you can think of someone or a type of person who would be a good fit for UAL?

There are various types of people who can be a good fit for UAL.

One type would be people who like to move independently. Pre-degree Online gives you tasks but offers you time and freedom to explore on your own, so this is a good opportunity for those who like independent work.

Another type can be people who are curious, and also likes to interact with various people across the globe. You will get opportunities to interact with students or tutors (on video call, chat,, or even outside of class), so this is a chance to be able to talk with different people.

Q. We would love to hear about any positive experiences you have had with the support of the UAL Japan Representative (beo)!

My representative, Keiko Takahashi helped me a lot with my application process to UAL. My original plan was to apply for a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design right away, but my representative was kind enough to tell me that I should take time to explore what I want to do and introduced me to Pre-degree Online. She was also a graduate of UAL, so her knowledge of the structure of UAL really helped me during the application process! I wasn’t very confident whether I would be accepted by UAL or not, but she not only helped me structure my portfolio and application to UAL, but also told me that I had the potential, which gave me a lot of confidence to apply for the course! Thank you very much!!!

Q. Could you give any advice or messages for those who are thinking of studying at the University of the Arts London?

You are not the only one who is not a native-English speaker, scared, or shy. Everyone is in the same situation! Especially if you want to experience Pre-degree Online to the fullest, it is best not to be scared, and try everything you can. I’m not saying to be extrovert or outgoing, but be confident and speak your opinion or question everything around you. It’s also okay to make a mistake, simply because it's not bad. You can get more feedback from other people regarding your mistake, and there might be people who are more interested in expanding and exploring your mistakes as well!

Not being afraid can also apply to communication with both tutors and peers. Online classes may be challenging, as everything feels distant and as if you’re shouldering everything alone. One of my tutors always said “Do not suffer in silence!” I’ve had friends who had to wake up at 4 am for class, and found it physically difficult. But once they communicated with the tutors, they understood and were very flexible with it.

Overall, communication and confidence are key!


 

ロンドン芸術大学日本担当官よりメッセージ

UALには分野によって様々なファウンデーション(Pre-degree)コースがあります。アート&デザインの学部ではより専門的な経験や知識が求められますので、現地イギリス人やUAL講師もファウンデーションコースを卒業後に学部進学する方がほとんどです。自分にはどのコースが一番合っているのかを相談したい方はぜひ日本出願事務局(beo)までご連絡ください!



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